Former COA Clerk and DC BIGLAWyer Taking ?s

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GeePee
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Re: Former COA Clerk and DC BIGLAWyer Taking ?s

Postby GeePee » Sun Jan 17, 2010 12:49 pm

Hey, thanks for taking ?s.

Do you see the billable hour model staying the norm for large firm employees, considering the bits of restructuring many firms seem to be doing ITE?

tengorazon
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Re: Former COA Clerk and DC BIGLAWyer Taking ?s

Postby tengorazon » Sun Jan 17, 2010 1:10 pm

heyguys wrote:I hope you will forgive rather pedestrian questions, but how happy are you with your job at the moment? If someone were to ask you about your job satisfaction, likes and dislikes, etc, what would you tell them?

Also, which matters more--school or grades?


Hm I like my job a good deal. Although I have received a few mind-numbing projects, most of what I do is substantive and directly useful to the case I'm working on. My biggest dislike is never being 100% sure that I'll be able to do something non-work-related--especially on a weeknight--but I've had to cancel only one thing so far, and that was simply rescheduling the date I saw a musical to avoid interfering with dinner at a partner's house. But then again, I generally avoid weeknight plans. Regardless, at the end of the day, I am paid very well for a 26-year-old. "Job satisfaction" is relative...would I prefer to do something else knowing that it would also undoubtedly entail grunt work and long hours at times, but much less money? (I can't think of an alternative, aside from banking, that doesn't.) Absolutely not. I enjoy researching, writing, strategizing, etc., and I am happy to receive almost $200k to do it. Of course, it helps that I'm at a firm that gets lots of very interesting cases.

School matters more than grades. But for the top jobs, you need to have done well at the top schools.

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Re: Former COA Clerk and DC BIGLAWyer Taking ?s

Postby tengorazon » Sun Jan 17, 2010 1:14 pm

imchuckbass58 wrote:
thesealocust wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Hi thanks for taking questions!

I just have a quick one. I'm trying to figure out what to do with my year between UG and LS and I was wondering how important that experience is for hiring after law school, both for clerkships and biglaw. I'm specifically looking at paralegaling at the DOJ. I know that for admissions, it doesn't matter too much, but would that kind of pre-law school employment be helpful for finding jobs after law school?

Thanks so much!


Basically nothing you can do before law school will help you land a legal job. Nothing wrong with pursuing law related work, but don't expect a leg up - especially for the most competitive jobs, law school grades and activities in law school are what matter.


I've actually anecdotally heard differently from the 2Ls and 3Ls here at Columbia. Obviously grades are most important, but there was a definite feeling that people with demanding business jobs before law school (banking, consulting, etc.) noticeably outperformed at OCI compared to what their grades would predict (i.e., kids below median getting jobs ITE, kids barely above median getting "good" jobs - Cleary, STB, Weil, etc).

OP, if you have any perspective would love to hear it.


There were several former bankers, consultants, etc. at my law school, but I didn't notice any real difference in job outcome. However, the Rhodes Scholars, Marshall Scholars, etc. did do noticeably well in attaining the super elite jobs (e.g., DOJ Appellate or Google for 1L summer).

But I guess to the extent the former business people might do better, I'd agree with the previous poster that it's probably tied to interviewing skills and knowing certain buzzwords.

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Re: Former COA Clerk and DC BIGLAWyer Taking ?s

Postby tengorazon » Sun Jan 17, 2010 1:17 pm

GeePee wrote:Hey, thanks for taking ?s.

Do you see the billable hour model staying the norm for large firm employees, considering the bits of restructuring many firms seem to be doing ITE?


Yes, it's still a very useful way for both the firms and the clients to assess the amount and value of the work performed. Alternative fee arrangements have always existed, and their popularity undoubtedly increased during the recent economic troubles; however, the billable hour isn't going anywhere. In fact, I'd predict that those firms that are touting their new fee models today will return to the billable hour in the near future (even if they don't return to lockstep...which is also here to stay for the foreseeable future at the top firms).

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Re: Former COA Clerk and DC BIGLAWyer Taking ?s

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jan 17, 2010 2:23 pm

tengorazon wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Any unusual tips for getting a COA clerkship?


Not really. By the time you apply, there is little you can change except your application strategy. As for that, in this economy, my recommendation is to apply broadly. However, don't apply to any judge whose offer you would not be willing to accept on the spot. Also, if you don't snag anything during "the plan" season, continue to look, because several judges have openings later.

EDIT: I will also say to personalize your cover letter to the extent that you can. That always made a difference. And use your interests section on your resume to put something...interesting (but not corny). Also list all of the papers you've worked on in law school, even if they're not published.


What about if I'm a 0L?

tengorazon
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Re: Former COA Clerk and DC BIGLAWyer Taking ?s

Postby tengorazon » Sun Jan 17, 2010 2:27 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
tengorazon wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Any unusual tips for getting a COA clerkship?


Not really. By the time you apply, there is little you can change except your application strategy. As for that, in this economy, my recommendation is to apply broadly. However, don't apply to any judge whose offer you would not be willing to accept on the spot. Also, if you don't snag anything during "the plan" season, continue to look, because several judges have openings later.

EDIT: I will also say to personalize your cover letter to the extent that you can. That always made a difference. And use your interests section on your resume to put something...interesting (but not corny). Also list all of the papers you've worked on in law school, even if they're not published.


What about if I'm a 0L?


Study hard first semester, then take classes that maximize your chances of getting good grades; suck up early (i.e., first semester) to influential profs so you can RA for them; get on law review; and try to publish something (preferably a note in your main law review, but an article in a secondary journal will suffice) before or during 3L year.

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GeePee
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Re: Former COA Clerk and DC BIGLAWyer Taking ?s

Postby GeePee » Sun Jan 17, 2010 2:35 pm

Do you feel that your clerkship actually helped you polish your research and writing skills in a significant and meaningful way (beyond what you might have gained jumping straight into a firm job), or do you think of it more as a prestige/signaling opportunity?

Any thoughts on interviewing (mostly regarding judges, but I guess firm interviews also)? Is it better to emphasize your personal interests outside of the law, or stick to your previous legal experience/academics? Are there any particular skills or traits that are looked for in particular? Etc.

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Re: Former COA Clerk and DC BIGLAWyer Taking ?s

Postby TTT-LS » Sun Jan 17, 2010 2:43 pm

.
Last edited by TTT-LS on Mon Jul 05, 2010 12:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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thesealocust
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Re: Former COA Clerk and DC BIGLAWyer Taking ?s

Postby thesealocust » Sun Jan 17, 2010 2:45 pm

edit: n/m
Last edited by thesealocust on Thu Jul 01, 2010 11:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Former COA Clerk and DC BIGLAWyer Taking ?s

Postby groundkontrol » Sun Jan 17, 2010 3:35 pm

How has it been paying off loans from law school?

tengorazon
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Re: Former COA Clerk and DC BIGLAWyer Taking ?s

Postby tengorazon » Sun Jan 17, 2010 3:42 pm

GeePee wrote:Do you feel that your clerkship actually helped you polish your research and writing skills in a significant and meaningful way (beyond what you might have gained jumping straight into a firm job), or do you think of it more as a prestige/signaling opportunity?

Any thoughts on interviewing (mostly regarding judges, but I guess firm interviews also)? Is it better to emphasize your personal interests outside of the law, or stick to your previous legal experience/academics? Are there any particular skills or traits that are looked for in particular? Etc.


The clerkship was certainly useful in honing my research and writing skills, and my judge gave good feedback. But I don't think that's the primary reason to do a clerkship, since I do think you can get that at a firm also. For me, the clerkship was the ideal transition year between law school and work. You're still doing the same kind of stuff as in law school, but you have to get up and go to work every day...though not for as long as in biglaw (for most judges anyway). Moreover, my emphasis in the application process was on judges who had reputations for treating their clerks well and for being good mentors. My judge definitely fit both of those criteria, so the clerkship was helpful in that regard as well. Finally, yes, there is a prestige/signaling function that should not be disregarded.

Interviews will depend on the judge, so you should try to do as much research beforehand as possible. Some judges like to talk about cases, recent SCOTUS decisions, etc. Others don't. My judge mainly talks about outside interests with interviewees (e.g., movies, politics, pop culture, where you're from). Also, I'm in the "go with the flow" interview camp. I don't really try to steer conversations in any particular direction. Just get the interviewer to talk about himself and continue to engage him until he steers you in a different direction. You want the conversation to flow naturally.

tengorazon
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Re: Former COA Clerk and DC BIGLAWyer Taking ?s

Postby tengorazon » Sun Jan 17, 2010 3:45 pm

groundkontrol wrote:How has it been paying off loans from law school?


Fine. During the clerkship, I made the minimum payments. Now I pay extra and will hopefully have everything paid off in the next couple of years.

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Re: Former COA Clerk and DC BIGLAWyer Taking ?s

Postby kurama20 » Sun Jan 17, 2010 3:50 pm

tengorazon wrote:
groundkontrol wrote:How has it been paying off loans from law school?


Fine. During the clerkship, I made the minimum payments. Now I pay extra and will hopefully have everything paid off in the next couple of years.



Do you live in DC or in NOVA? How much is it to live in a nice apartment in DC?

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groundkontrol
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Re: Former COA Clerk and DC BIGLAWyer Taking ?s

Postby groundkontrol » Sun Jan 17, 2010 3:57 pm

Also, which school did you go to? T14? You can just say MVP or CCN o HYS if that makes you more comfortable but I don't see how naming your school would give away too much about you.

tengorazon
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Re: Former COA Clerk and DC BIGLAWyer Taking ?s

Postby tengorazon » Sun Jan 17, 2010 4:25 pm

kurama20 wrote:
tengorazon wrote:
groundkontrol wrote:How has it been paying off loans from law school?


Fine. During the clerkship, I made the minimum payments. Now I pay extra and will hopefully have everything paid off in the next couple of years.



Do you live in DC or in NOVA? How much is it to live in a nice apartment in DC?


I live in DC, although I have several friends who live in NOVA (Courthouse is particularly popular). What's your definition of "nice"? For a 1BR, you'll probably pay anywhere from $1500-3000, depending on the location (more for Chinatown, U St., and Dupont Circle) and amenities.

tengorazon
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Re: Former COA Clerk and DC BIGLAWyer Taking ?s

Postby tengorazon » Sun Jan 17, 2010 4:25 pm

groundkontrol wrote:Also, which school did you go to? T14? You can just say MVP or CCN o HYS if that makes you more comfortable but I don't see how naming your school would give away too much about you.


HYS

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JAP1985
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Re: Former COA Clerk and DC BIGLAWyer Taking ?s

Postby JAP1985 » Mon Jan 18, 2010 1:17 pm

What is the "real deal" on being openly gay? I've read a few of the articles on ATL, and spoken to other people familiar with law firm hiring, but sometimes I get the feeling that firms perpetuate a glbt tolerance for politically correct purposes (and rank), but really are much more conservative.

tengorazon
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Re: Former COA Clerk and DC BIGLAWyer Taking ?s

Postby tengorazon » Mon Jan 18, 2010 10:54 pm

Hm I know openly gay people at my firm and at other firms, and I haven't detected any bias against them. But I honestly cannot comment on their experiences.

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Re: Former COA Clerk and DC BIGLAWyer Taking ?s

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jan 19, 2010 6:00 am

tengorazon wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
tengorazon wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Any unusual tips for getting a COA clerkship?


Not really. By the time you apply, there is little you can change except your application strategy. As for that, in this economy, my recommendation is to apply broadly. However, don't apply to any judge whose offer you would not be willing to accept on the spot. Also, if you don't snag anything during "the plan" season, continue to look, because several judges have openings later.

EDIT: I will also say to personalize your cover letter to the extent that you can. That always made a difference. And use your interests section on your resume to put something...interesting (but not corny). Also list all of the papers you've worked on in law school, even if they're not published.


What about if I'm a 0L?


Study hard first semester, then take classes that maximize your chances of getting good grades; suck up early (i.e., first semester) to influential profs so you can RA for them; get on law review; and try to publish something (preferably a note in your main law review, but an article in a secondary journal will suffice) before or during 3L year.


What if you aren't taking a class with an influential prof? Is it acceptable to go to another prof's office hours and discuss his/her research? It seems somewhat transparent...

tengorazon
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Re: Former COA Clerk and DC BIGLAWyer Taking ?s

Postby tengorazon » Tue Jan 19, 2010 7:24 am

At my law school, profs would often post notices that they were seeking RAs. In that case, it would be fine not to have taken a class with that prof. Of course, the most influential profs didn't have to post such notices, so you're correct that you'd likely have to take a course from the prof first (and do well).

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Re: Former COA Clerk and DC BIGLAWyer Taking ?s

Postby heyguys » Tue Jan 19, 2010 7:31 am

Do you think clerking is one of those things that everyone should do if they possibly can, or would you say that it is just a great experience that people should consider doing? What are the benefits of clerking for your biglaw job, besides being able to do appellate work? More seasonable chance at partner?

tengorazon
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Re: Former COA Clerk and DC BIGLAWyer Taking ?s

Postby tengorazon » Tue Jan 19, 2010 11:25 pm

I would certainly recommend clerking for anyone who can. However, the benefits aren't really tangible. It's like law review: people in the profession respect it as a stellar credential...and whatever that entails. Perhaps it enhances your chances for partner (90% of the people at my firm clerked), it would certainly be useful if you were to change jobs, it likely adds to your general perception among clients and other lawyers, etc. My question is, why not? The only reason I can think of is the loss of $30-50k, which is certainly nothing to sneeze at...but rather small in the grand scheme of things. It's not like you'll be living on the streets during that year. So yeah, I don't really see a reason not to clerk.

ETA: I suppose there is less of a reason to clerk if you're certain you want to be a transactional attorney. In that case, it might be better to start gaining the experience that will help you in your career, and that would not likely come from a clerkship (aside from, perhaps, on the Delaware Chancery Court).

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TTT-LS
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Re: Former COA Clerk and DC BIGLAWyer Taking ?s

Postby TTT-LS » Tue Jan 19, 2010 11:30 pm

.
Last edited by TTT-LS on Mon Jul 05, 2010 12:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Kretzy
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Re: Former COA Clerk and DC BIGLAWyer Taking ?s

Postby Kretzy » Wed Jan 20, 2010 12:22 am

Thanks so much for taking questions.

For those of us considering HYS over other schools in the T14 at significant scholarship (or full-ride), do you think there is substantial benefit to having an HYS degree after your initial job search? I know that HYS placement is the gold standard, but how much does that name carry you once at the firm (considering somewhat equal performance with your peers from other schools).

tengorazon
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Re: Former COA Clerk and DC BIGLAWyer Taking ?s

Postby tengorazon » Thu Jan 21, 2010 12:08 am

Kretzy wrote:Thanks so much for taking questions.

For those of us considering HYS over other schools in the T14 at significant scholarship (or full-ride), do you think there is substantial benefit to having an HYS degree after your initial job search? I know that HYS placement is the gold standard, but how much does that name carry you once at the firm (considering somewhat equal performance with your peers from other schools).


Yes, but only for HYS. I honestly don't think the debt is worth it for any other school. But with HYS, there is the cachet. I am certain that things have come more easily to me and my classmates because of where we went to school. Each of these schools have alumni doing lots of interesting things, and those alumni, for better or worse, like to help out grads from their alma mater...just look at how many HYS people are in the Obama administration right now (including Obama himself). Aside from those, however, I'd take the money elsewhere in the t14 (e.g., money at UVA or Cornell over no money at NYU).




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